May 15, 2023
HornHairs is a price action based crypto trader.
What attracted you to trading?
I’ve always been competitive. The idea that I could do a job that boiled down to a mental competition with real consequence and reward was enticing. I enjoy independence and freedom as well while doing things my own way, and the thought of being completely reliant on my own performance was also appealing.
How long have you been trading and what markets have you traded over your career?
When I was in middle school I tried saving up lunch money to open a stock trading account but never got enough money. Way down the line, a year after college, I bought Bitcoin in late 2016/early 2017 and started trading around then. I have traded stocks, commodities and forex but 99% of my trades have been in crypto.
What stocks were you looking to trade as a middleschooler?
I had no real clue, I just was drawn to the idea of making money outsmarting the markets with my mind.
Do you have an ideological interest in BTC, or was it purely speculative?
Interest initially came about out of a desire to make money, but I think the ideological reasons were what made me stick around and truly dive in deeper at the start.
How long did it take you to become profitable?
Becoming truly profitable, not just getting lucky from a crypto bull run, took me a full crypto cycle (2-3 years). Things started to really click in 2019 after I round-tripped most of my bull run profits in 2017-2018 when I was just shooting in the dark and getting lucky from everything going up. Major milestones for me were when I ditched indicators and realised that price was all that mattered. I began digging into ICT and Trader Dante material. ICT concepts gave me a great foundation for price action, and the idea of liquidity and Trader Dante’s SFP modules laid the groundwork for my most used setup. From there, I really dialled things in after listening to the Audiobook “One Good Trade” by Mike Bellafiore, which lead me to treating my trading like a real business. Journaling was cornerstone to this approach and I would be nowhere without my trading journal practice.
I was just shooting in the dark and getting lucky from everything going up.
What’s the basic premise of treating your trading like a real business? Reviewing performance etc?
It all boils down to statistics and data, journaling and review. The binary nature of trading, you either lose or make money, makes it seem easy to an outsider or beginner. Anyone can get lucky and buy the right coin in a bullish market and make money, but true sustainability, in all market environments, requires one to hone in on a system of replicable “products” (IF -> THEN statements) that are replicable on a long time span. You have costs (trading fees, data feeds, etc.), and you have revenue (profitable trading setups). Without roughly knowing the profitability of your system (revenue - costs) you will be trading in a state of anxiety and fear, and that will eat you, and your bankroll, alive on a long enough time scale.
The binary nature of trading, you either lose or make money, makes it seem easy to an outsider or beginner.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I live at the beach and surf as much as I can, so if there are waves to surf in the morning, I will go surf as soon as I wake up. That is priority number one. When I get home, I eat breakfast and drink coffee while scrolling through charts and Crypto Twitter. From there, I usually have a trading plan for the New York market open and will look to trade that from 8:30/9:00 am to lunch. I try to stay out of the markets from lunch (noon) to around 2-3:00 pm as my journal shows that my profitability is lowest then. Depending on the charts, I may hop back in to trade the legacy market closing session from 2-4:00 pm.
During this crypto cycle, I’ve focused a lot more on my work-life balance, so I will try and wind things down around the legacy markets close and go do something active after journaling my trades for the day. I eat around 6:00 pm most days and chill with my wife the rest of the night and try to read before I go to bed around 10 pm.
if there are waves to surf in the morning, I will go surf as soon as I wake up. That is priority number one.
What kind of stuff do you read?
All things Philosophy, Spirituality, Markets, Trading, Surfing, Health and Fiction
Who did you look up to when you first started trading?
There were a few legends I learned a lot from in 2017 during my first crypto bull market. One of them was a guy who is no longer on Twitter and goes by the name Kazonomics. He opened my eyes to the idea of human emotion and how it is the ultimate factor across all markets. His knowledge of the fractal nature of human behavior and how it pertained to price and market cycles allowed me to see things objectively. In the next cycle, this helped me resist the urge to believe things were different and going to go up forever. His content laid the framework for me to step outside the mob mentality that can roar loudly on Crypto Twitter and observe price objectively for what it is.
And what, objectively, is it?
Less along the lines of what price is by definition, Kaz’s content helped me be self-aware of the perils that my bias and ego can bring about in trading. Price is agnostic to your existence and your position.
Price is agnostic to your existence and your position.
Tell us about your most memorable trade.
My most memorable trade would have to be buying the bottom around $3.3k BTC in 2019, not because it was my most profitable but because it was when I really started utilising price action concepts objectively. The sentiment was grim back then, I even started trading Forex briefly due to the limited opportunities in crypto at the time. Then, in February of 2019, I was heavy into ICT material, watching all of his videos at 2x speed to get through the mountain of content he had put out over the years when a perfect bullish breaker setup showed on the daily chart of BTC. I took the setup and caught the higher low on the daily chart that has still to this day not been revisited. It was a cool mental breakthrough that gave me the confidence to continue pursuing pure price action trading, which I still use today. If it was not for that trade I am not sure I would still be trading the same way I am today.
Do you think you’d be trading at all? Has there ever been a period where you struggled and thought maybe you weren’t cut out for trading?
I’m sure I would have found a way somehow. There have certainly been times when I’ve struggled, for sure. 2018 I moved to California for a year, where I decided to go full time crypto. I did not know anyone there and it was probably the loneliest year of my life as crypto was in a bear market and I was discovering what trading truly was. I have a strong belief in my ability to simply figure things out, but that period I truly questioned whether it would be worth the struggle to do so. In that struggle, though, is where I undoubtedly grew the most.
I have a strong belief in my ability to simply figure things out
What’s the best trading advice you’ve been given?
Mike Bellafiore from SMB Capital speaks about treating trading like a business. Each setup is a product with a % profitability margin for your business. This way of thinking really pushed me to properly keep a journal and trade in a professional manner, rather than buying some flavor of the month altcoin and crossing my fingers, hoping it goes up. Having business-like data and stats to back up the trades you take allows you to execute with confidence and withstand periods of drawdown.
What gives you the discipline to keep that up? Do you ever feel the pull of FOMO?
Statistics. It gets really easy if you can see that your win rate is garbage if you trade, for example, against the trend, on a Saturday, in the middle of the day, in the context of no-man’s-land on the chart, using a 1 minute setup. That’s an obvious example of a scenario that would be unprofitable based on my stats but if you just extrapolate that and focus purely on a confluence of your best stats then you start to develop almost the opposite of FOMO. In fact, I am actively looking to develop more setups so I have reason to trade the market more than I do.
What drives you to keep trading?
I like to think that I will eventually have “enough” money to stop trading one day, but the truth is I truly LOVE trading and the satisfaction of executing a trade perfectly according to the rules of my system. My “why” is multifold, though. I just got married last year and hope to have kids soon, so providing for my future children is at the top of my list. Beyond that, I actually have a degree in Marine Biology and did my thesis on Marine Agriculture. My dream is to own my own oyster farm/operation out on the Intracoastal. Crypto has always been a means to an end to achieve that dream.
My dream is to own my own oyster farm/operation out on the Intracoastal. Crypto has always been a means to an end to achieve that dream.
Would you say you’ve ‘made it’?
I hope I am able to always dream and have aspirations big enough to where I will never feel that I have “made it.” For now, I still have several dreams I am chasing and am enjoying the journey. The freedom of being able to pursue something every day that I truly care about and have always dreamed of accomplishing feels like “making it” to me. Progress is “making it” to me. Being better than I was yesterday, whether it be my physical fitness, trading, relationships, or surfing, is “making it.”
What's the most important quality in a trader?
Emotional control. Anyone can come across a profitable ruleset and system, but having the tenacity to follow and execute trades based on your rules is what sets a good trader apart from a bad trader, especially in periods of drawdown.
What’s the worst period of drawdown you’ve experienced?
Percentage-wise I blew up a couple of exchange accounts in 2017. I never went to zero but certainly learned the hard way, I think that’s normal and even necessary to experience and feel so you have first hand perspective on an emotional and psychological level. As my funds grew, though, so did my USD drawdowns, and in 2022, after being able to lazily punt bullish setups all 2021 and be rewarded, I suffered my largest period of drawdown when that failed to be the case anymore. Our brains are similar to our digestive systems where it takes time to digest our emotions. When you experience drawdown (and huge wins) you need to be patient with yourself and give yourself TIME to digest those emotions. Not trading at all, not looking at crypto twitter, doing active things outdoors and taking a step back to appreciate and BE GRATEFUL for what I have is my go-to. Gratitude in drawdown is huge. Knowing that your journal and system is actively improving and being honed on what to do and what not to do is even more important. Journal, breathe, digest, be grateful, remember your north star and come back hungry for more with full belief in your stats and your ability to execute on your system.
Our brains are similar to our digestive systems where it takes time to digest our emotions.
How would you describe the way you trade?
My trades are very reactionary. If price triggers a setup that has statistically been profitable for me over time, then I act upon it and execute the trade. I am not interested in knowing where the price goes next, rather just trading my setups to the best of my ability.
I am not interested in knowing where the price goes next, rather just trading my setups to the best of my ability.
Has the way you trade changed over time?
Like most crypto “traders”, my original idea of trading was buying a cryptocurrency, holding it, and hoping it goes up and that I would also have the wisdom to sell it higher than I bought it. Nowadays, I stick to a couple of setups, prioritising fading overzealous market participants whilst trading in the direction of the overall trend.
How do you identify overzealous participants if just looking at price?
A system built around divergences and “sweeps”/failed breakouts.
Why do you think you have success trading?
I was stubborn enough to push through the learning period. More importantly, though, I have a reason to keep going that is bigger than myself and bigger than the desire to make money for the sake of making money.
What's the worst thing about trading and why?
Being indoors. Humans did not evolve to sit in a single position for multiple hours a day with increased stress hormones flowing through their bodies whilst getting very little sunlight and squinting their eyes at a blue-lit screen all day.
Humans did not evolve to sit in a single position for multiple hours a day with increased stress hormones flowing through their bodies whilst getting very little sunlight and squinting their eyes at a blue-lit screen all day.
Take care of your health. We crypto-specific traders are all guinea pigs, the first generation to trade a global 24/7 market, with access to endless information and novelty streams by way of Twitter. This acceleration in activity didn’t happen slowly like the evolution of our brains from generation to generation. None of this matters at the end of the day if you’re anxious, stressed, overweight, out of shape or sick. “Work to live, don’t live to work.” Health precedes wealth.
What's something you've learned in the last 6 months that has made you a better trader?
Time of day for setups is an extremely important factor for profitability. I recently looked back at my profitability broken down by 30-minute intervals for when I enter a trade. I am actually net negative on entries taken from 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm this year and most profitable right at the New York open. Track everything.
Do you look into why that is? Are you taking bad setups, or just that market behaves differently at that time?
Likely both, I probably am not my most focused around lunch time and its widely accepted that the market is easier to move and less liquid during those lunch hours for the east coast US, making it easier for price to wick/invalidate an otherwise decent setup.
What's the mistake you find hardest to avoid when trading? Any tips to avoid it?
Admitting you are wrong and not taking an immediate revenge trade to try and recover losses. Avoiding this is tough, mindset wise I continually try to look at the market like a massive river of abundance that is constantly going to flow and change and provide new opportunities as time inevitably passes downstream.
More concrete, though, tracking every trade and the setup you are using to take the trade and looking at the profitability of each trade will open your eyes to how often a revenge trade is not a setup whatsoever. I tag revenge trades in my journal as “revenge trades” which I can go back and look at how those specific trades performed, as well as trades without a setup as “no setup.” Both of those tags are easily the least profitable tags in my journal.
look at the market like a massive river of abundance that is constantly going to flow and change and provide new opportunities as time inevitably passes downstream.
If you could give someone starting trading tomorrow one piece of advice what would it be?
Track everything through a journal. Without a journal, in my opinion, when you’re starting out, especially, you aren’t trading. I have been reading Taleb’s book “Antifragile” recently, and he speaks about the Greek mythological creature, the Hydra. When you cut off a head of the Hydra, two grow back in its place, creating a system that benefits from volatility and negative outcomes. Managing risk is one thing, but if you are not actively growing from your losing trades (and metaphorically growing two heads in its place, like the Hydra) you will just die a death of a million paper cuts. Screen time is mandatory, but you can expedite profitability and screen time by way of journaling. (I use Edgewonk and CoinMarketMan)
How would you describe your relationship with risk?
As far back as I can remember, I have loved risk. As soon as I could stand up, I was riding around on a skateboard. Risk builds belief in oneself that promotes growth in all aspects of life.
How do you know how much risk is too much?
In trading, I have a system. In life, I have nothing other than the primitive answer of my gut and instinct. Trading has honed that gut feeling and instinct more than anything has in my life now. I think receiving instant feedback in trading for listening to, or especially NOT listening to, your gut and instinct has helped me hone that ability.
In life, I have nothing other than the primitive answer of my gut and instinct.
What goals do you set for your trading?
That is always fluctuating as my journey as a trader plays out. For the most part, though, they’re always qualitative, rather than quantitative. I’m looking to set goals that better my trading process, rather than set a $ goal for my trades, for example. At the moment, I am dialled into avoiding setups with a negative expectancy which has caused me to take a lot fewer trades day to day.
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Most traders would be better off deciding whether they want to be a trader or an investor. If “trader” is the answer, sell your spot crypto, hold USD and allow yourself to trade the chart in a completely objective manner.
What separates the pros from the rest is passion and a competitive spirit. Those two will inevitably lead you to find the things that you are best at and the things you HAVE to do to succeed. You can’t half ass be a professional trader or treat this as a hobby.
A good trader should never grow complacent. The thing about trading is there is a limitless amount of information and variables in which you can improve. And if you aren’t actively aiming to get better, your competition will and you will get run over.
The biggest misconception about trading is that it is all about numbers and charts. I’d argue a large majority of successful trading boils down to psychology and mindset. Anyone can learn how to trade a swing failure pattern, identify support/resistance or supply/demand levels, but if your head isn’t right and your discipline isn’t there, you will get obliterated mentally first by way of variance and drawdown, causing your system to crumble. Trading is just as much about your mental and physical state of being as it is your trade execution, risk management, and chart knowledge.